Dick Whittington at Towngate Theatre

Rosie writes: Ahead of our visit to the Towngate, I had read with interest about Simon Fielding’s panto run at the Towngate.  I wasn’t disappointed with Dick Whittington – his fourteenth annual production of directing, co- choreographing and co- producing. This was a cracker of a performance!  An original pantomime favourite, giving laughs all round.

The show opened with a belter from a favourite kids musical, and the local youngsters – the Beau belles – added fantastically with their talent and local jokes as they were given their mission by Fairy B of Basildonia.   Smiles from all generations ensued. Nothing capture’s the attention of children like other children performing.

As the first act took a well-known favourite and told it classically -panto perfectly, we enjoyed the character personalities we expected: a perfect pairing and great vocals with the lovely Alice and Dashing Dick   and all the laughs with Silly Billy and Cook. As our perfect hero arrives in London to seek his fame and fortune along with his new feline friend, he finds he has a challenge on his hands when he sets the “mayorship” in his sights.  Our villain – Queen Rat – was a surprise with her not so local accent.  This baddie was just the right amount of bad (no tears from the smallest members of the audience which is sometimes the case when a Baddie is just too terrifying) but the crack of her tail certainly got our attention!

As we sailed through act 2, the show got better and better and was full of action. No fear of the tiniest viewers snoozing at this show.  The story took us on a journey to Morocco and back again. Or did it? At one point, I wondered if we has taken a visit to the Tower Ballroom at Blackpool with the very strictly like  dance moves.

The choreography (Aisling Duffy) was thoroughly entertaining and varied and the musical arrangements (Matthew Reeve) had us tapping and singing along. The style was varied and appealed to a mixed age audience. The rocking galley scene had the whole audience in stiches with the frantic antics.  A highlight for me was the sinking ship number with the Russian Rodent (who did remind me a little of T bag of kids TV fame, at one point) and our main Dick Whittington (played by Alastair Hill) I loved it!

Basildon – you’re in for a treat with this year’s production- don’t miss it- It’s a good – un!

I will be sure to book for next year – thank you Towngate!


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